Violent onslaught against women and children still prevalent in Eastern Cape

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
Shadow MEC for Safety and Security

The brutal criminal onslaught against women and children in the Eastern Cape has shown little to no signs of stopping, with tens of thousands of cases of violent crime against women and children reported annually.

The lives of our women and children are not respected or valued. Societal norms in this regard need to rapidly change!

In response to parliamentary questions from the Democratic Alliance, MEC for Community Safety, Weziwe Thikana Gxothiwe, revealed that over the past three financial years, a shocking 1 603 women have been killed in the province.

The majority of these women were either shot or stabbed to death, while 374 victims’ lives were taken away with not enough information being provided in their manner of death.

Of the 530 killings recorded in the 2018/19 financial year, only 51 convictions were secured, of the 569 killings in the 2019/20 financial year, only 36 convictions were made.

These brutal killings did not show much sign of decline during the COVID-19 lockdown, with a further were 504 deaths recorded in the 2020/21 financial year, and just 11 convictions made.

The main areas of concern are, Mthatha, Bethelsdorp, Willowvale and Bityi, with Cofimvaba, Lusikisiki and Ngqeleni taking the top 3 spots in the 2020/21 financial year.

These statistics show that more needs to be done to protect the women and vulnerable in our communities and these statistics reflect that need.

See IQP 14 Q 369

MEC Tikana Gxothiwe also revealed that in 2018/19 there were 22 751 crimes committed against women and 6 194 crimes against children. In the 2019/20 financial year, these crimes only slightly decreased to 20 979 against women and 5 991 against children.

This slight decrease is not enough to stop the worrying trend and speaks to the brutal society we live in.

Further, the statistics provided show that 8 728 assault (GBH) crimes were committed against women in the 2018/19 financial year and 8 323 in the 2019/20 financial year.

The statistics reflecting sexual offences committed against women show that in the 2018/19 financial year, 6 551 crimes were committed and 5 028 in the following financial year.

With regard to children, 1078 assault (GBH) and 3914 sexual related crimes were reported in the 2018/19 financial year and 1052 assault (GBH) and 3756 sexual related crimes were reported in the following financial year.

See: IQP 4 Q 82

The funded Victim of Empowerment Programme (VEP) Service Centres statistics also show a worrying trend.

In the 2018/19 financial year 28 998 victims accessed services from the VEP centres. The following year 30 339 victims received psychosocial support and in the 2020/21 financial year, a further 21 879 received support.

These statistics seem to indicate that a lot more crimes against women than what is being reported are taking place in our province.

The availability of this VEP programme needs to be better publicized so that victims know where to get help, and the number of GBV shelters (there are only 20) needs to be expanded.

See IQP 12 Q 293

It is clear from the above that the current interventions by SAPS are not enough, and we are losing the battle against gender-based violence. There needs to be accountability and a clear commitment from the MEC and SAPS to address this disaster.

The failure to timeously process DNA cases, for example, is clogging up the criminal justice system and denying justice to the thousands of victims and their loved ones.

There needs to be a greater improvement in catching these criminals so that the conviction rate can improve.

Many of the sexual offences happened between people who know each other. This means that communities need to be particularly vigilant and proactive in protecting vulnerable women and children.

The DA is committed to fighting to reduce crime so our communities can feel safer.